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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.33:1 Standard
  • Russian Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 2 Discs
FEATURES
  • Includes: The Ascent, Wings

Larisa Shepitko


Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Larisa Shepitko
2008 | 194 Minutes | Licensor: Mosfilm

Release Information
DVD | MSRP: $29.95 | Series: Eclipse from the Criterion Collection | Edition: #11
RLJ Entertainment

Release Date: August 12, 2008
Review Date: July 29, 2008

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SYNOPSIS

The career of Larisa Shepitko, an icon of sixties and seventies Soviet cinema, was tragically cut short when she was killed in a car crash at age thirty-nine, just as she was emerging on the international scene. The body of work she left behind, though small, is masterful, and her genius for visually evoking characters' interior worlds is never more striking than in her two greatest works: Wings, an intimate yet exhilarating portrait of a female fighter pilot turned provincial headmistress, and The Ascent, a gripping, tragic World War II parable of betrayal and martyrdom. A true artist, who had deftly used the Soviet film industry to make statements both personal and universal, Shepitko remains one of the greatest unsung filmmakers of all time.

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PICTURE

For series 11 Eclipse presents two films by Russian director Larisa Shepitko. The first single-layered disc contains the film Wings and the second dual-layered disc presents The Ascent. Both are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.33:1 and both have also been picture-boxed.

The transfers overall for both are quite good, though I think The Ascent is the better of the two. Both present fairly clean prints, a spec appearing here and there, along with lines. The Ascent is the cleaner looking one.

Contrast differs between the two films as well. Blacks look a little washed in Wings while they’re much deeper and bolder in The Ascent. I also felt Wings’ colouring leaned more towards a brownish tinge rather than gray. Sharpness is quite different between both, where Wings looks softer and hazier and The Ascent looks much better with sharper details.

I was content with the transfers on both, but The Ascent, which is the newer of the two by about eleven years, is clearly the better looking one.

7/10

All DVD screen captures are presented in their original size from the source disc. Images have been compressed slightly to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

Screen Capture
Wings

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Wings

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Wings

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Wings

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Wings

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The Ascent

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The Ascent

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The Ascent

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The Ascent

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The Ascent

AUDIO

Both films present Russian Dolby Digital mono tracks. Like the image The Ascent is better than Wings in the audio department, though overall they’re decent enough tracks. Dialogue and music are a little edgy and background noise is more noticeable during Wings while The Ascent presents a cleaner sounding track.

6/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Seeing as how this is an Eclipse release it shouldn’t be a surprise that there are no special features. The films are presented in their own slim, clear DVD cases, the inside cover of each containing notes of their respective films and that’s about all there is in the way of features. Nothing else is found on the discs.

1/10

CLOSING

I thought this release was actually a decent little gem. I was completely unfamiliar with Shepitko before this release and am now more inclined to check out her other work (her life cut tragically short she only has a few films under her belt) if I can somehow. I’m disappointed Criterion only saw fit to release these couple of films under the Eclipse banner instead of giving them more lavish editions, but the transfers for both are at least quite good, with The Ascent looking great. Highly recommended.


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